Notorious Cambodian tiger hunter sentenced to seven years in prison

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - A Cambodian court on Wednesday sentenced a
notorious hunter of endangered animals - including at least 19 tigers,
40 leopards and 30 elephants - to seven years in jail, officials said.

A judge in southwestern Cambodia's Koh Kong province found Yor Ngun,
57, guilty of trading in endangered species, said Cheng Monyrath, a
court clerk who attended the proceedings.

Yor Ngun was on a "conservationists' top wanted hunters list" since he
was identified as a "notorious tiger hunter" in 2001, the U.S.-based
conservation group WildAid said in a statement.

Yor Ngun "is known to have tracked and killed 19 tigers, 40 leopards,
30 elephants, 500 gaur, banteng and sambar, 40 Malayan sun bears and
three Asiatic bears" before his arrest in March, it added. Gaur and
banteng are endangered species of wild cattle, while the sambar is an
endangered type of deer.

Forestry officials first arrested Yor Ngun in the country's northeast
in 2004 but released him after he signed a statement promising not to
repeat his offense.

But officials in Koh Kong province arrested him in March this year
while he was transporting wildlife parts, including 25 bear jaws and 82
bear nails, the statement said.

"He is a skilled hunter. He told the court that once he spotted any
traces of tiger, bear or elephant, the animals could never escape his
snares," court clerk Cheng Monyrath said.

Suwanna Gauntlett, WildAid director for Cambodia, said Yor Ngun claimed
he "knows exactly when the animals mate, eat, rest, what time they come
to drink. He can track them down."

She said Yor Ngun was the third convicted hunter since Cambodia enacted
a forestry law in 2002, following the convictions of a woman and a man
in 2003. She added that only "a handful" of tigers are left in
Cambodian jungles "because of people like Yor Ngun."

The man's conviction "means that the law is being implemented and that
they (wildlife hunters) can no longer go unpunished," Gauntlett said.

Many endangered animals are killed in Asia for use in traditional
Chinese medicines.

08/31/05 08:03 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. The information contained in the
AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated
Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.